Filmmaker: Ian Gibbins

these days by Ian Gibbins

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I had the pleasure of watching this film by Australian videopoet and musician Ian Gibbins at the Big Poetry Weekend in Swindon, UK last fall. Prophecy never sounded so groovy.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of videopoems with footage shot from cars, but this is the first time I’ve seen the driver credited (Judy Morris). A nice touch. And I like what Gibbins does visually to suggest the way our vision and possibly our very relationship to the landscape is warped by our love affair with the automobile. Of course it has to have a driving rhythm, as well.

Chant for a Pandemic by Finn Harvor, Dee Hood, et. al.

A project of the online group AGITATE:21C, where Florida-based experimental video artist Dee Hood pulled together video contributions from around the world, including a text by Finn Harvor, an American artist, writer, musician and filmmaker based in South Korea. The other contributors were Maria Korporal, Sandra Bougerch, Tushar Waghela, Muriel Paraboni, Lisi Prada, Eija Temiseva, Ian Gibbins, Jutta Pryor, Sarah Bliss, Darko Duilo, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, Erick Tapia, Lori Ersolmaz, AvantKinema, Sarahjane Swan, Roger Simian, Lino Mocerino, Francesca Giuliani, Luis Carlos Rodriguez, and Willow Morgan. In the Vimeo description, Dee notes:

This is a collaboration between video artists around the globe. We wanted to share our common experience with this pandemic. There are no boundaries for anxiety, fear, grief and frustration. We are all in this long wait together. Today the world is on hold but we will be back. Thanks to all the artists for giving us a glimpse of where they live.

Isolation Procedures by Ian Gibbins

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Australian videopoet Ian Gibbins has always been good at breaking down ordinary language into its elemental phonemes and graphemes. Here, it works especially well to point up the grotesque inadequacy of official communication during a time of crisis. Here’s the description on Vimeo:

“WE ARE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE… MAINTAIN YOUR SOCIAL ISOLATION…”

After the pandemic has passed, the lockdowns persist: this is the new normal…

Recorded during the 2020 coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic mostly on location at Sleep’s Hill, Blackwood and Belair, South Australia, under partial lockdown conditions. The audio samples are made from birds, frogs and voices in the immediate neighbourhood. The text samples advice from various government, business and community organisations.

Floodtide by Ian Gibbins

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Fellow Australian film-maker and poet Ian Gibbins asks in Floodtide how a city copes, and what does it look like, after years of drought, rising sea levels, relentless storms.

The video was shot around Adelaide, the Fleurieu Peninsula, Inner Suburban Melbourne, the Western Highway, and Far North Queensland. An only-slightly futuristic vision of a flooded urban landscape was achieved through the use of video compositing.

After The Incoming, The Overflow, our future lay within the tides, no turning back, no neap, no ebb, an undertow of uncertainty and doubt… Taunting us, an illusion of normality… We have run out of options, we are battling for breath…

It received the Honorable Mention at the Experimental Forum Film and Video Art Festival (Los Angeles, July, 2019).

Hexapod by Ian Gibbins

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This two-year-old videopoem by the Australian polymath Ian Gibbins is more relevant than ever, with this past week’s dire new report on the worldwide collapse of insect populations, which found that “More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered… The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.”

Compared with that forecast, Gibbins sounds down-right optimistic. Here’s how he describes the film on Vimeo:

“nearly extinct … we burrow… far from toxic miasmata … we will wait … once more fill the skies…”

Brooding, breeding underground, the insects wait until the time is right to escape the confines of gravity and environmental degradation.

Hexapod was short-listed and screened at 5th Ó Bhéal Poetry-Film Competition, Cork, Ireland, 2017, as part of the IndieCork Film Festival.

It was screened at the 6th International Video Poetry Festival, Athens, January, 2018 and published on-line at Atticus Review in February, 2019.

Do visit the Atticus Review for additional process notes.

Blue Moon by Ian Gibbins

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A recent video by Australian poet Ian Gibbins, made by panning along a single, huge, composite image, as he describes in some very helpful process notes:

The underlying sequence of buildings panning along to a beachscape is actually a single still image that I built in Photoshop. It is constructed from about 100 images of buildings around the Adelaide CBD, North Haven, and Brighton. They were photographed on days with bright sunshine and clear blue skies so that the lighting was comparable across the shots. Even so, I needed to adjust colour, brightness, saturation, scale, perspective and so on to get the visual mix right. The blue skies also allowed for easier compositing later on. In the final mix, the background sky was processed to be the same in all assemblies and was derived from the average sky colour in the images. The final Photoshop file is huge: 62,000 x 1800 pixels and about 500 MB. It was assembled from 5 smaller montages, each of which was from a specific location, and each of which contained dozens of layers.

I then took the final composite image into Final Cut Pro X and animated the pan from one end to the other. To save memory, I rendered it, and used the resulting video clip in the final composite. The sky with moving clouds is composited from three sets of vids I took all on the same day, but in slightly different parts of the sky so that the cloud movements were not quite the same. They are sped up and looped to varying degrees. The various flying objects are from a commercial image library that I animated. The final moonrise sequence is taken from the recent lunar eclipse we had (click here to see that). It is composited via an animated mask and a couple of other image processing tweaks. The whole lot was composited using colour keys, background colour gradients, key framed text and opacity animations.

The soundtrack is tin can, a performance I did as part of a Paroxysm Press tribute to David Bowie. The text is inspired by Bowie’s Space Oddity, Arthur C Clarke & Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and NASA’s Pioneer 10 / 11 space probes to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, with all due reference to Homer’s Odyssey. The music is derived from the chord pattern of Space Oddity. You might find a few other references as well…

Ian’s text also demonstrates, I think, why poets can benefit from greater scientific literacy. When was the last time you read or heard a poem about the moon that didn’t still act as if ours were the only moon in the sky?

Heist by Ian Gibbins

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A strangely compelling videopoem by Australian poet, composer and retired scientist Ian Gibbins. I say “strangely” because, after watching it twice, I still have no idea what it’s about… but I’m eager to watch it again! I particularly liked the use of computer code-like text on screen, which reminded me of what Gibbins did with mathematical notation in “accidentals (recalculated).” It also made me think of the WordPress slogan “Code is Poetry,” which I’ve always struggled with because the converse (“poetry is code”) is an unfortunately fairly widespread perception that prevents so many people from simply enjoying poetry, feeling instead that it’s a puzzle to be solved. That said, “Heist” does seem to tease certain detective-story sensibilities. Here’s the précis on Vimeo:

// * Calculating_our_options, we_talked_about * //
> C:\ [Raid 1] clandestine_surveillance, sleeplessness;
> D:\ [Raid 2] digital_account_protocols, stolen_cars;
> E:\ [Raid 3] handwritten_code, avarice_and_betrayal {who_is_working_the_numbers, keeping_track_of_time?};
> V:\ [Raid 4] execution, small_arms_fire (countersunk_beleaguered); {will_there_be_backup_when_we_are_zeroed_to_baseline?}.

This is one of two videos of Gibbins’ to be screened last weekend at the 6th International Video Poetry Festival in Athens.

UPDATE (1/25/18): At my suggestion, Gibbins has blogged about the video: “heist: what’s going on here?” I’m finding it difficult to excerpt the post since the whole thing is worth reading, so please just click through and read it.